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Ortega v. People/ 562 Scra 457/ Aug.

20, 2008
Facts:

Ortega (Petitioner) was 13 y/o when he raped AAA (Victim) who was then 6 y/o
on 3 different occasions. - August 1996/ Following day/ Dec. 1, 1996/
The girl was subjected to 2 medical examinations by 2 different doctors. (Dec. 2,
1996)
1st doctor found no indication that she was molested / 2 nd there are signs of
abrasions and lacerations.
Parties reached an amicable settlement. Petitioner should avoid contact with
the Victim
Few months later, at the sight of petitioner near their house, AAAs father was
infuriated and confrontations occurred.
AAAs parents then with the help of NBI filed 3 counts of rape but the
prosecutors office filed only 2 instant cases.
RTC ruled in favour of the respondent. Appeal /CA affirmed the RTCs decision.
MR Denied.
Hence this Petition.
During the pendency of appeal in the Supreme Court, Juvenile Justice and
Welfare Act of 2006 (R.A 9344) was passed which provided that at the time of the
commission of the crime, a child whose age was 15 years old and below will be
exempted from criminal liability.

Issue: W/N the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (R.A. 9344) should be applied
in
the
present
case.
Held:
Yes. Section 64 of RA 9344 exempts a child below fifteen from criminal liability
if at the time of the commission of the crime he is below fifteen (15) years of age
and below at the time of the commission of the crime shall immediately be dismissed
and the child shall be referred to the appropriate local social welfare and development
officer. Upon assessment, the offender will be released to the custody of his parents
or be referred to prevention programs.
By virtue of R.A. No. 9344, the age of criminal irresponsibility has been raised
from 9 to 15 years old, this law is evidently favorable to the accused. Petitioner was only
13 years old at the time of the commission of the alleged rape. This was duly proven by
the certificate of live birth, by petitioner's own testimony, and by the testimony of his
mother. Indubitably, petitioner, at the time of the commission of the crime, was below 15
years of age.
What is controlling, therefore, with respect to the exemption from criminal liability
of the CICL (Child In Conflict With Law), is not the CICL's age at the time of the

promulgation of judgment but the CICL's age at the time of the commission of the
offense.
Given this precise statutory declaration, it is imperative that this Court accord
retroactive application to the aforequoted provisions of R.A. No. 9344 pursuant to the
well-entrenched principle in criminal law -favorabilia sunt amplianda adiosa restrigenda.
Penal laws which are favorable to the accused are given retroactive effect. This
principle is embodied in Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code, which provides:

Art. 22. Retroactive effect of penal laws. Penal laws shall have a
retroactive effect insofar as they favor the persons guilty of a felony, who
is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in Rule 5 of Article 62 of
this Code, although at the time of the publication of such laws, a final
sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same.

Criminal cases against Petitioner are hereby Dismissed.


Comment: Dura lex, sed lex. The law is harsh, but it is the law.
The very purpose of R.A 9344 is to protect the children by exempting them to any
criminal responsibility. In the present case, even if the court was convinced that the
accused committed the crime of rape they cannot do anything but to apply RA 9344. It
may be unfair, acquitting petitioner of the crime he committed against his victim who
was also a child back then and also deserves protection. However, by virtue of the said
RA 9344, the court only did its job and applies laws and jurisprudence applicable to the
case.